Tom Brady has not yet made a decision on retirement, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will give the quarterback "all the time he needs".

The Bucs' season ended on Sunday with a dramatic Divisional Round defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, going down 30-27 after Brady had led his team back from 27-3 down to tie the game.

But talk before the game had suggested it could be Brady's last if Tampa lost, as transpired.

The 44-year-old told his Let's Go podcast that he will be making any decision together with his family, refusing to rule out the possibility of quitting the NFL after seven Super Bowl triumphs.

"Playing football I get so much joy from. I love it," Brady said on the podcast. "But not playing football, there's a lot of joy in that for me also now, too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow.

"So all these things need to be considered and they will be."

After two outstanding years with the Bucs, Brady said he would only continue if he was operating at "a championship level".

The veteran QB surely still represents Tampa's best possible option under center, but coach Bruce Arians insisted on Monday he would give Brady time.

"I haven't talked to him yet," Arians said. "He'll take all the time he needs and we'll see."

The Bucs had won the championship at the end of the 2020 season and brought the entire team back for a title defence, but an ageing group could not deliver again.

There will be no "rebuild", though, as Arians responded to that suggestion: "No, I think it's just a reload, like it is every year.

"For us, free agency will be our guys. We'll see how many we can get back and build the team from there. I always look forward to that part of it and the draft.

"Each year is so different and so new. Last year, to get everybody back, that was amazing. I doubt we can do that again this year, but we're still going to give it our best."

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, a team-mate of Brady's with the New England Patriots and then the Bucs, insisted his future was not necessarily linked to the QB's.

"Whatever Tom does Tom's going to do," he said. "I'm sure that he needs time to himself, too, to see where he's at at this stage. We'll see in couple of weeks where I'm at."

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded for Rob Gronkowski back in April 2020, it was tough to picture the future Hall of Fame tight end having a substantial impact.

After all, Gronkowski had appeared to have spent his last reserves in Super Bowl LIII when he hauled his clearly ailing body downfield and made a diving grab for a 29-yard fourth-quarter reception that set up the New England Patriots' only touchdown of their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

It was a catch that at the time served as a spectacular last ember of an incredible career, but the Bucs put stock in Tom Brady's belief that Gronkowski's fire to deliver at the highest level still burned brightly, and they have been emphatically vindicated.

He caught seven touchdowns in the 2020 regular season, but he once again saved his best for the grandest stage with a dominant two-touchdown performance in the Bucs' Super Bowl LV rout of the Chiefs.

And, with Tampa Bay shorn of most of their depth at the wide receiver position, there will be an even greater emphasis on Gronkowski to rise to the occasion as the Bucs attempt to defend their title.

His numbers from a surprisingly efficient 2021 suggest he is more than up to the task.

Running out of receiving weapons

Last year, opposing defenses weren't able to consistently dedicate special attention to Gronkowski, such was the wealth of options at Brady's disposal.

They went into the previous campaign's postseason with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown at receiver as well as having Gronkowski at tight end.

Evans remains and remains an extremely gifted number one receiver who perhaps does not get the credit he deserves for his hugely impressive consistency.

In Week 18, Evans surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the eighth successive year, an NFL record for the longest streak to start a career.

He leads all wideouts (min. 100 targets) in burn percentage, which measures how often a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted. Evans has won 75.2 per cent of those matchups this season, while he is also first among receivers who meet that threshold with a big play rate of 43.1 per cent.

However, Brown's departure from the team leaves the Bucs without a receiver tied third for burn yards per route (4.0) among receivers with at least 50 targets.

Godwin is on the shelf with torn ligaments in his knee, robbing Tampa of another top pass-catcher who on the list of wideouts with triple-digit targets trails only Evans, Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs with his burn rate of 70.4.

Their absences place Gronkowski's ability to produce elite play at tight end into sharper focus and his efforts at the age of 32 should give great encouragement to Tampa.

Gatecrashing the elite

Gronkowski was long since seen as the gold standard at the tight end position. A mismatch as a receiver and a tremendous blocker, peak Gronk is the blueprint for modern-day NFL tight ends.

But when he re-entered the league after a retirement that lasted only one season, a new order of top tight ends had been established.

George Kittle and Travis Kelce are regarded as the best of the best at tight end, with Darren Waller a tick below that duo. This season, Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert have taken leaps to threaten to join the elite.

Yet in several metrics, it is Gronkowski who stands above that group at the top of the pile.

Gronkowski's burn rate of 72.1 per cent trails only Goedert and Kelce among tight ends with at least 25 targets. However, he is first in burn yards per target (13.00), burn yards per route (3.5) and big play rate (45.7 per cent).

Simply put, no tight end in the NFL has done a better job at creating separation and turning his targets into explosive plays than Gronkowski, whose rapport with Brady shows no sign of dissipating.

Indeed, when he targeted Gronkowski in the regular season, Brady had a passer rating of 113.6. To put that into context, the best overall passer rating this season was Aaron Rodgers' 111.9.

When Brady needed a big play in his final Super Bowl with the Patriots, he turned to Gronkowski, and it was their combination that was arguably the most crucial offensive aspect of the defeat of the Chiefs last year.

With Brown gone and Godwin out, the cupboard is not as well-stocked for the Bucs heading into this postseason, meaning if Brady is to claim ring number eight, he will again need to turn to the man whose renaissance in Tampa is arguably as impressive as his own ceaseless brilliance.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says it would be a "travesty" if 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady does not win the MVP award.

Brady had 485 completions from 719 passing attempts for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdown passes across the regular season, which was the league-best across all categories.

The Bucs QB becomes the third quarterback following Drew Brees (2018) and Peyton Manning (2013) to lead the league in all four major statistical categories since 1991. Brady's 485 completions was an NFL single-season record.

Brady produced a three-touchdown display in the Bucs' 41-17 win over the Caroline Panthers on Sunday to reinforce his credentials with the home crowd chanting "MVP!".

"I think if he doesn't get it, it's a travesty," Arians told reporters on Monday. "Most completions ever, 5,000 yards, touchdowns - the whole nine yards. To me, it's not even a close race."

Brady's 5,316 passing yards was also the third-most in NFL history, beating his own personal record of 5,235 yards from 2011.

Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski said: "It just shows what his work ethic is, how dedicated he is to the game of football and just how talented he is.

"Just his determination week in and week out - it's just unbelievable. And it's just surreal how he's pulling it off at age 44 and just coming out here like he's in his 20s still, just winging that ball, zipping it where it needs to be, making fantastic throws week in and week out."

Gronkowski added: "Tom's the MVP every year. Just the way he adjusts on the fly to his personnel, just trying to get the ball into the best players' hands or the best matchup on that current play - he's just always ready to go no matter what the situation is. He's the MVP every year."

Tom Brady hopes he and Rob Gronkowski can break the NFL record for the most regular-season touchdowns by a pair of players after combining in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 30-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Brady and Gronkowski turned back the clock, teaming up for two touchdowns to lead NFL Super Bowl champions the Bucs past the Falcons on Sunday.

It was the 89th and 90th TDs between star duo Brady and Gronkowski – moving them second on the all-time list, topped by Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (112).

"I hope we do. I look for him down there, he is a really big target most of the game," the 44-year-old Brady said when asked if he and Gronkowski would play long enough to eclipse Manning and Harrison.

"I think what makes him so amazing is to do what he does in the run game and block defensive ends. Some of the biggest and strongest guys in the world. To run routes and catch balls and be so athletic. Along with the endurance he has, it is just really amazing."

Team-mates at the New England Patriots before teaming up in Tampa and guiding the Bucs to last season's Super Bowl title, Brady and Gronkowski dazzled against the Falcons.

Gronkowski's first touchdown came via a 27-yard pass in the second quarter before Brady found the four-time Super Bowl-winning tight end with an 11-yard throw in the third period.

A record seven-time Super Bowl champion, Brady finished with four TDs on 38-of-51 passing for 368 yards and one interception as he improved to 10-0 as a starter against the Falcons.

"He kind of makes it easy on any quarterback," Brady said of Gronkowski. "He's just so big, so quick, great hands. Just does an amazing job. A great catch-and-run that he had and then I threw the fade for a touchdown, which was really cool -- he makes those pretty easy, too. I obviously love being out there with him.

"It was good to see him make those plays. He was out for quite a while this year, you know? Just seeing him back, playing great, really enjoying it -- it's really fun for me. That's the best part."

Gronkowski added: "That second touchdown definitely brought us back to the heyday -- the fade. I wasn't supposed to have a fade but he saw and just reminds me of the heyday for us."

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said of the pair: "I think when you play that long together -- I mean, like Gronk said the other day, Tom knows what he's thinking before he does.

"And it's obvious out there a couple of times Tom's thrown a couple balls and even Gronk wasn't quite ready because he knew where he was going. It's great chemistry they have."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have brought in tight end Darren Fells as Rob Gronkowski continues to struggle with injury.

Fells' agent Ron Slavin confirmed to NFL.com on Wednesday that the Bucs were signing the veteran to their practice squad and are set to elevate him to the main roster this week.

The Bucs later confirmed they had added Fells and also brought back their former wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who like Fells was initially added to the practice squad.

Gronkowski missed four games for the Bucs due to multiple rib fractures before attempting to return in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints.

However, he was forced to leave the game with back spasms having not made a catch in the 36-27 loss.

The Bucs had a bye week in Week 9 but Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said on Tuesday there was still a worry over Gronkowski's fitness going into Sunday's game at the Washington Football Team (2-6).

Gronkowski had made a fast start to the season with 16 catches and four touchdowns over the first three weeks of the season before going down.

The presence of O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate meant the Bucs still had strong options at TE in his absence and the arrival of Fells – who was waived by the struggling Detroit Lions this week – will provide further depth.

The 35-year-old had 11 receiving touchdowns for the Houston Texans across 2019 and 2020, while he can also contribute as a run blocker.

New England Patriots great Gronkowski took a year out of football in 2019 before returning last season to re-join quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa and play his part in the Bucs' Super Bowl triumph.

The Bucs (6-2) are well placed for another postseason run despite losing to the Saints last time out.

They are top of the NFC South and, as things stand, are not scheduled to play a team with a winning record over the next four weeks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is unsure if star duo Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski will return for Sunday's NFL showdown with the Washington Football Team.

Brown has missed Tampa Bay's last two games due to an ankle injury, while Gronkowski is battling to overcome back spasms that flared up in the loss to the New Orleans Saints on October 31.

Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers are coming off the bye and practiced on Monday, though neither Brown nor Gronkowski were involved.

"I think you still have to worry a little bit about Gronk and I don't know if AB is going to be back," Arians told reporters.

"And Carlton [Davis III] will stay on IR [injured reserve]. We'll see if those other two guys are game-ready.

"It's one thing to practice, it's another thing to throw them out there in a game."

Gronkowski had four touchdown receptions in the season's first two games and 16 grabs overall prior to suffering his initial rib injury in Week 3 before missing four games.

Brown's average of 83.6 receiving yards per game is highest among all Buccaneers pass-catchers.

The Buccaneers (6-2) lead the NFL in points scored per game (32.5) and passing yards per game (327.5).

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker compared Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to NFL greats Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski after the star pair helped take down the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).

Altuve and Correa each homered for the Astros, who rallied to top the Red Sox 5-4 in Friday's ALCS opener at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Astros wiped out a 3-1 deficit behind Altuve's two-run homer in the sixth inning – his 20th postseason home run as he became the fourth player to achieve the feat.

Correa then completed the comeback in the seventh with his 18th playoff homer – tied for seven-most all-time, while he recorded his 55th postseason RBI, the most among active players.

Baker hailed Altuve and Correa after the Astros drew first blood in the best-of-seven matchup, likening them to Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstars Brady and Gronkowski.

"It's kind of like Tom Brady and [Rob] Gronkowski," Baker said, with Brady and Gronkowski enjoying great success together with the New England Patriots and now the Buccaneers.

"They know how they think. They know probably what they eat for dinner, what they like and what their kids like."

Altuve became the fastest player (68) to reach 20 playoff home runs.

The World Series winner has now scored 11 runs in Houston's five playoff games this season. According to Stats Perform, that is tied with Carlos Beltran (2004) for the most runs in any five-game span in a single postseason.

"He is just so dangerous," Correa said of Altuve. "His track record in the playoffs is insane, and he just inspires me. He inspires me without saying much."

"When I walk into that clubhouse in spring training and I see this guy that has won MVPs, Silver Sluggers, batting titles, Gold Gloves, Hank Aaron Awards," added Correa. "Every single award you can imagine, he has won it, and then he shows up to spring training wanting to work on different things to get even better."

Correa celebrated his fourth career go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of playoff games, the most in postseason history.

"He is amazing. He likes this kind of game," Altuve said of Correa. "He wants to go out there and hit big homers. It seems like he expects to go out there and do it, so if you're expecting something, eventually you're going to make it happen, and that's him."

Correa's heroics prompted the Astros star to drop his bat and point to his wrist after homering against the Red Sox.

"It's to my team-mates," Correa explained. "When the playoffs start, they always tell me 'it's your time now to go out there, hit homers.' They told me to hit the watch, when I hit the homer.

"I did it in Chicago [in the ALDS] the first time on my own, and today they told me 'if you hit a homer, hit them with the, it's your time'."

Rob Gronkowski will again be missing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' clash against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday. 

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski suffered a rib injury in the Week 3 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, forcing him to miss games against the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins. 

The 32-year-old has not practiced all week and will play no part in Thursday's contest in Philadelphia, the team confirmed. 

The tight end had been a key offensive weapon for the Bucs prior to his injury, with 16 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensive starters Lavonte David and Antoine Winfield Jr. have also been ruled out of the game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Center Ryan Jensen (hip), edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/hand) and defensive end Patrick O'Connor (calf), meanwhile, were all listed as questionable in Wednesday's injury report. 

Quarterback Tom Brady has been dealing with a thumb injury but is set to lead the Tampa Bay offense as the Bucs look to move to 5-1.

Rob Gronkowski will not travel with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Sunday's game against his former team the New England Patriots, according to reports.

Gronkowski was listed as "doubtful" on Friday's injury report due to a rib complaint, but ESPN and NFL Network said on Saturday he had been ruled out.

The tight end will miss the chance to take on the Patriots for the first time in a game that will also see quarterback Tom Brady return to Foxborough.

Gronkowski spent the first nine years of his career with New England, in which time he scored 92 overall touchdowns across the regular season and postseason – leading the league at his position – and won three Super Bowls.

The 32-year-old then retired in 2019, only to reverse his decision a year later and join the Bucs when Pats legend Brady also left for Tampa, where they teamed up for another Super Bowl success.

Gronkowski's 13 TDs since returning to the league trail only Travis Kelce's 17 among tight ends, but he will not get the opportunity to add to that total on Sunday thanks to an injury sustained in the Week 3 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says four-time SuperBowl champion Rob Gronkowski will be a "game time decision" to play on Sunday against the New England Patriots.

The Bucs take on the Patriots in Tom Brady's return to Foxborough, with Tampa Bay currently 2-1 after a Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams 34-24.

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski missed two practices this week with a rib injury and is questionable to play.

Gronkowski, who was also with the Patriots from 2010 to 2018, suffered the injury in the third quarter against the Rams but did return to play.

The tight end has been a key offensive weapon for the Bucs this season, with 16 receptions for 184 yards and four touchdowns.

The Bucs have further injury worries with outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul in doubt with a hand/shoulder issue.

Brady going to his former side has been the subject of plenty of attention this week but Arians said the team's main focus was on a strong response after the Rams defeat.

"Hell of a week of practice," Arians said. "You could really feel the difference in intensity this week.

"It doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Brady. It has to do with losing. I liked the way we bounced back on the practice field."

The debate over whether Bill Belichick or Tom Brady was more responsible for the New England Patriots' dynasty is not one likely to die down any time soon.

But for Belichick's part, the Patriots coach has long since accepted he would not have enjoyed the same success, which saw New England win six Super Bowls in Brady's 20 seasons as quarterback, had another player been under center.

Asked at a media conference if New England would have dominated to the same extent without Brady, Belichick replied: "Of course not. We talked about that for two decades.

"I think I've been on the record dozens of times saying there's no quarterback I would rather have than Tom Brady and I still feel that way.

"I was very lucky to have Tom as the quarterback, to coach him, and he was as good as any coach could ever ask for."

Belichick's fondness for Brady did not stop him from allowing the Patriots' greatest player to leave in the offseason before the 2020 campaign.

Brady moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and promptly won a seventh Super Bowl ring.

While Belichick will have to plan for a game against Brady for the first time when the Buccaneers visit the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, he will likely not have to face tight end Rob Gronkowski, whom the Patriots traded to the Bucs last season after he came out of retirement.

Gronkowski was listed as doubtful on the Bucs' injury report, having suffered a rib injury during Tampa Bay's Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Running back Giovani Bernard and cornerback Jamel Dean have both been ruled out, the latter's absence potentially meaning playing time for a new signing in five-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman.

The third week of the NFL season is not short of enticing matchups.

A divisional showdown between two high-powered AFC West offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers headlines the early slate of games, while Sunday's primetime matchup sees a rematch of the NFC Championship Game as the Green Bay Packers visit the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers.

Sandwiched in between those fascinating contests is an encounter that most will see as the game of the week, one that could have a pivotal impact on the NFC playoff picture come the end of the season, as Tom Brady plays in Los Angeles for the first time in his professional career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going out west to take on the Rams.

Beyond being a battle of unbeaten teams, it is an encounter that pits one of the game's most celebrated quarterbacks against one of its most underappreciated, who is thriving in his opening weeks playing for the Rams having been freed from the shackles of a listless Detroit Lions franchise.

Both Brady and Matthew Stafford have started the season as most expected them to, operating at a level to suggest they can propel their respective teams to deep postseason runs.

However, they each will take on defenses stacked with the talent to shut down even the most prolific offenses when at their best. It promises to be a tremendous spectacle at SoFi Stadium, one that should provide an early barometer as to who is the class of the NFC.

Little to separate stellar QBs

Brady is ancient by NFL standards, but his remarkable longevity has turned the fact he continues to excel at age 44 into old news. Nobody is surprised by his continuing brilliance, which sees him lead the league with nine passing touchdowns in two games, four more than Stafford.

Yet a man who has turned performing when the pressure is at its highest in the playoffs into an art is essentially neck and neck with a quarterback yet to taste a postseason victory when it comes to accuracy so far this season.

Stafford has a well-thrown ball percentage of 81.5, putting him just below Brady on 81.7, though it is the former Lion who has the edge when it comes to delivering accurately under pressure.

The Rams' signal-caller ranks fifth among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts under duress this season with a well-thrown percentage of 80 when pressured. Brady has a less impressive ratio of 75 per cent, though that is still well above the average of 69.2 per cent.

Stafford also has a string to his bow that is not a part of Brady's arsenal, as he has settled superbly into Sean McVay's offense and quickly adapted to an attack that consistently relies on the play-action bootleg.

On his nine throws where he has been on the move, Stafford has produced a well-thrown ball 88.9 per cent of the time, compared to 75 per cent on four such attempts for Brady.

That difference reflects the contrasts in offensive approach, but the opportunity to get on the move and outside of the pocket gives Stafford a potentially pivotal avenue to avoid an often ferocious Buccaneers defensive front.

Compelling cases for the defense

Stafford may find encouragement in that a Buccaneers pass rush that pressured Patrick Mahomes 33 times in their Super Bowl win last season has been, for the most part, held in check through two weeks.

Edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, who led the Bucs with 13 pressures of Mahomes, has won just 11 of his 44 pass rush attempts so far, according to Stats Perform data. Things have gone even worse for veteran Jason Pierre-Paul with a solitary win on 34 attempts.

Pierre-Paul's struggles may mean more of rookie Joe Tryon, who has won four of his 12 rushes, but Tampa can at least be fairly confident of pressuring Stafford up the middle, with defensive tackle Vita Vea prevailing on nine of his 25 attempts.

Despite the lack of pressure, Stafford – who has thrown an interceptable pass on 3.7 per cent of his attempts – must be wary of a defense that has already produced four turnovers, including two interceptions returned for touchdowns, with starting cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean each enjoying strong starts to the campaign. Davis has allowed a receiver to get open on five of his 22 coverage matchups, with Dean (6/21) also proving difficult for pass-catchers to separate from.

The primary threats on the Rams' defense are easy to identify.

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald has won a massive 65.63 per cent of his pass rushes despite being double teamed 19 times.

Meanwhile, on the back end, cornerback Jalen Ramsey has yet to allow an open receiver in 18 coverage matchups, further illustrating his status as one of the league's most dominant cornerbacks.

For the Bucs to prevail, Brady must avoid both.

Stacked supporting casts

For as much as the two defenses each possess the calibre of player to make a quarterback's life misery, both Brady and Stafford have the luxury of extremely strong offensive lines.

Indeed, the Rams have allowed only 16 pressures of Stafford this season, the fewest in the NFL. Tampa Bay's offensive line has given up 10 more, yet that still puts the Buccaneers tied fifth in the league.

And, should the theme of the two O-Lines giving their quarterbacks time continue, Brady and Stafford will have the opportunity to find some excellent pass-catching options.

Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin has recorded a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup on a play where he is targeted, 88.9 per cent of the time. That is the most among wide receivers with at least 10 targets. His big-play percentage of 46.7 is third among such wideouts.

Antonio Brown's presence on the reserve/COVID-19 list may see even more targets go to Godwin while tight end Rob Gronkowski should play a featured role with a burn percentage of 84.6 and four touchdowns through two games.

The change from Jared Goff to Stafford has not changed the identity of the two most important receivers for the Rams.

Robert Woods' burn percentage of 76.9 is sixth for wideouts with a minimum of 10 targets, and Cooper Kupp's burn yards per target average of 13.94 is second among receivers who have been targeted at least 20 times.

With two extremely accurate quarterbacks, weapons all over the field and a pair of elite defenses, there is little to choose between two teams that for now appear destined to be playing in January. Home advantage, a Rams offensive line that the numbers suggest is slightly superior to that of Tampa Bay and Stafford's greater mobility tip the scales in Los Angeles' favour on paper. Yet, if there is one player who can redress the balance, it is Brady.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won an opening-night thriller in the NFL, the Super Bowl champions overcoming the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 thanks to a field goal with two seconds remaining.

The Cowboys led 29-28 with seven seconds on the clock at Raymond Jones Stadium – the home of the Buccaneers and the scene of their Super Bowl LV triumph in February.

But after Brady led an 11-play, 57-yard drive, Ryan Succop stepped up to convert the last-gasp field goal as the Buccaneers opened the 2021 season with a win.

It was another memorable outing for seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady (43), who passed Drew Brees for most career passing touchdowns in season openers in NFL history.

Brady completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions as the 44-year-old quarterback fuelled the Buccaneers.

Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott – back on the field for the first time since his season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 of the 2020 season – was 42-for-58 passing, with 403 yards, three TDs and one interception.

Prescott has had 400-plus yards in four games since the start of last season – the most by any player in the NFL.

The Buccaneers and Cowboys traded touchdowns in the opening quarter – Brady finding Chris Godwin before Prescott's 22-yard pass was caught by CeeDee Lamb inside the final two minutes.

Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected for a touchdown as the Buccaneers reclaimed the lead and while Prescott's TD pass to Amari Cooper and a Greg Zuerlein field goal put Dallas ahead, Tampa Bay had the last say before half-time – Antonio Brown on the end of a 47-yard throw.

There was history made in the third quarter as Brady and Gronkowski combined for their 100th touchdown, the star pair joining Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114) in the 100 club.

With his 22nd career game with multiple receiving TDs, Gronkowski broke a tie with Antonio Gates for most games by a tight end in the Super Bowl era and moved into a tie for sixth in any position.

Dallas only trailed 28-26 entering the final period thanks to Cooper's second TD and the visitors took the lead with just over a minute remaining via another Zuerlein field goal, but Succop and the Buccaneers were not to be denied.

Rob Gronkowski confirmed he held talks with rival teams in free agency before committing to Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for another year.

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski returned to the NFL last season, a year on from his retirement with the New England Patriots.

The tight end was traded to the Bucs, where he joined fellow Pats great Tom Brady for a successful title challenge.

According to reports, Gronkowski agreed to return to Tampa on the same terms as in 2020, signing a one-year, $10million pact.

But the four-time champion had earlier told The Ringer he wanted "just to see what's out there" in free agency.

As his new deal was formally announced on Monday, Gronkowski met the media and was asked about speculation he discussed a potential move to the Buffalo Bills.

"There was a little extent to that," said Gronkowski, who started all 20 regular season and playoff games last year and was targeted 91 times for 53 catches, 733 yards and nine touchdowns.

"I was a free agent, so as a free agent, you're allowed to talk to other teams. There were a couple of other teams, also.

"But just overall I wanted to be back with the Buccaneers organisation. Just the set-up here is just unbelievable. Just the chemistry that I've built over the last season is just fantastic.

"So just overall I wanted to come back to the Buccaneers.

"You know, it's football, you never know how things are going to play out. So it's just good to listen to what else is out there, and there was something to a little extent.

"I knew I wanted to be here."

The Bills were 13-3 last season, two wins better off than the Bucs, but lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

The Chiefs were subsequently blown away by Tampa, as Gronkowski scored two touchdowns in a dominant 31-9 win.

Of his 14 postseason scores - all of which have come from Brady passes, a playoff record - five have now come in Super Bowls.

Bucs GM Jason Licht said in a statement on Monday: "In addition to his contributions on the field, Gronk has quickly become one of the most beloved guys in our locker room.

"His ability to perform at a championship-calibre level week after week, while also uplifting everyone around him, makes him an invaluable presence in our building.

"Rob's accomplishments speak for themselves and make him one of the greatest to ever play the game at his position.

"We are thrilled to have him back with us as we pursue another title in Tampa."

Tampa have worked hard to reassemble their successful 2020 team.

Brady signed an extension, keeping him with the Bucs through 2022, while Chris Godwin was franchise-tagged and Lavonte David signed a new deal ahead of free agency.

Once the negotiating period began, Shaquil Barrett and Gronkowski also came back.

Rob Gronkowski will head back to Tampa Bay in 2021 as NFL champions the Buccaneers continue to reassemble their Super Bowl-winning team.

Five-time Pro Bowler Gronkowski returned to the NFL last season, a year on from his retirement with the New England Patriots.

The tight end was traded to the Bucs, joining fellow Pats great Tom Brady for a title challenge.

As so often in their time together in New England, the season ended in spectacular fashion for Gronkowski and Brady as they won the Super Bowl in their new home stadium in Tampa.

Gronkowski had been playing on a one-year, $10million contract, though, making him a free agent this offseason.

Monday saw negotiations start between teams and potential signings, and Gronkowski told The Ringer: "You just never know what may happen."

The four-time champion added he wanted "just to see what's out there".

But the 31-year-old did not take long to make his decision as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Drew Rosenhaus, the player's agent, confirmed his return to the Bucs.

Gronkowski will play under the same terms again, signing for another season for $10m.

The former Patriot started all 16 regular-season games in 2020, although he was targeted only 77 times. He had 45 catches for 623 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gronkowski saved his best display for Super Bowl LV, however, with six receptions for 67 yards and two TDs in the dominant 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Of his 14 postseason scores – all of which have come from Brady passes, a playoff record – five have now come in Super Bowls.

The Bucs will hope to return to the big game next year after bringing back Gronkowski, along with fellow free agent Shaq Barrett, another key performer in the defeat of the Chiefs.

Brady last week extended his contract through 2022, meanwhile, as Tampa put the franchise tag on Chris Godwin.

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